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Justices vacate transfer to negligent design case

March 20, 2013

The Indiana Supreme Court issued an order Monday vacating its grant of transfer to a case filed by a man rendered a quadriplegic after he fell out of a company truck’s utility bucket while working for Richmond Power.

The justices granted transfer in September to Anthony Wade v. Terex-Telect Inc., 29S05-1209-CT-557, and heard arguments in the case. But Chief Justice Brent Dickson and Justices Robert Rucker and Mark Massa decided that the Indiana Court of Appeals decision should stand.

A split Court of Appeals believed Anthony Wade was prejudiced by a jury instruction as to rebuttable presumption because it was unsupported by relevant evidence. The majority ordered a new trial. Wade sued Terex-Telect Inc., claiming the double-man bucket attached to the company truck was negligently designed under the Indiana Products Liability Act.

A jury allocated zero fault to Terex and 100 percent fault to Wade.
 
Wade’s counsel wanted to bring in a utility truck bucket at oral arguments, which the justices originally prevented, but later decided to allow such large exhibits as long as their setup and removal didn’t interfere with other arguments being heard.

Justice Loretta Rush dissented from the decision to deny transfer without opinion. Justice Steven David also dissented, writing he would affirm the trial court.

“The complained of instructions regarding State of the Art and Compliance with Government Regulations were proper statements of the law and were relevant to the allegations and the defenses raised. It did not require the jury to reach any particular conclusion and permitted counsel to argue that the evidence warranted its application or that the evidence did not warrant its application,” he wrote.
 

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